In the wake of the tragedy on December 14th in Newtown, Connecticut, some Republican dimwatts are seriously suggesting arming teachers. At first I thought it was a joke, but the opinion has been repeated more than once.
As a person who has worked in a public school for 15 years, I've got a few observations and questions about the practicality of this suggestion. As is typical of many a politician who has never entered a school in his adult lifetime, or spent two minutes with small children, he's terribly misguided.
1. What message does it send to children? Aren't we trying to develop model citizens? Arming a teacher says to a student: "Little child, this world is such a goddam dangerous place, your loving, otherwise sweet pre-K teacher must carry a gun." Talk about scaring kids!. Do you think a 3 year old will feel safe with an armed teacher? Does that create an environment where children can grow and learn?
2. Where will the gun be kept? Will it be locked up? Will the teacher carry it in a holster? Will it be concealed? (Better not be hugging Ms. So and So) Obviously it would have to be secured, with children around. So what if the teacher can't get to the gun quickly enough? Does she have to bring it with her to recess, library?
3. Will teachers be trained to use the gun? How often? The teacher must be trained appropriately, so she doesn't misfire and kill some students instead. By the way, teachers already have copious amounts of training and ongoing education to attend to. How will this fit in? Will the government pay for it?
( My school system doesn't even pay for some of the training I'm required to do now.)
4. What if a student gets a hold of the gun, and shoots everyone in his class? If guns were available in schools, situations might escalate from swearing and desks being tossed over, to murder. What if an angry parent gets a hold of the gun? What if a teacher shoots a child by mistake, thinking the child was armed or dangerous? Having guns in schools would probably increase incidents of violence in schools, not decrease violence.
5. Do we arm all the teachers? That's thousands and thousands of teachers. Who will pay for that? Many schools can't even pay for reading teachers and tutors, never mind armed guards. If we choose armed guards, who are these people? How do we know the guard is mentally sound? Will they be trained experts, or old retired guys? Do parents really want some old guy with a gun protecting their children? What about all the day care centers and preschools? Do we have armed guards there too?
6. A school in Texas has some teachers armed right now. I'm not sure how long they've had the policy. The trouble is, some people think that guns solve all safety problems. Just because a teacher is armed, it doesn't mean he/she is going to stop a perpetrator. Many times armed guards at banks or clinics get shot trying to stop assailants. Often even trained police officers get shot trying to stop perpetrators. I heard someone make a good point on the radio. Jim Brady got egregiously injured by a gunshot, and he was surrounded by Secret Service agents! JFK was assassinated surrounded by secret service agents and police officers.
7. Finally if a person wants to kill a group of vulnerable children, or people, there's lots of venues to choose from, other than a school. Other community centers are vulnerable too. Are we going to have armed guards at libraries, ball fields, churches, supermarkets, malls, the Boys and Girls Club, and on and on?